Excellence in Performance — Public Speaking

Watching a variety of performance arts provides great inspiration for excellence in anything you might do.  It especially relates to excellence in public speaking.  Check out this choreographed juggling routine by Chris Bliss.  As a speaker and a humorist, sometimes I find it tempting to just “wing it” (be in the moment and go with the flow).  Many of us fall into that trap occasionally, out of convenience or habit. 

Although being spontaneous does have its positive side, the truth is that there is really no substitute for solid preparation.  As you watch Chris Bliss you can be sure that he isn’t just making it up as he goes.  Hundreds of hours (probably thousands) and many dropped balls went into preparation for this display of perfection.  What could you do differently, or better, if you had more preparation?  If you were totally prepared?  If you were over-prepared?  That would allow you to be truly in the moment and perform at your very best. 

Another juggler, Jason Garfield, repeated the Chris Bliss routine with five balls instead of three.  It was shot in a gym and the production quality is not great, but the skill level is clearly amazing.  Although it appears more difficult to use five balls instead of three, and the Wow-Factor is larger, the entertainment value isn’t necessarily higher.  The clean lines of thee balls makes the art stand out.  In many art forms the expression “less is more” does apply.  For example, in the world of magic the classic Chinese Linking Rings is traditionally performed with five or seven rings.  But there are some very powerful routines choreographed with just three rings and even two rings which by most measures are even more powerful performance pieces for an audience.  The simplicity and clean elements of a less complex performance often results in a higher quality entertainment value.

Lessons learned.  Excellence is achieved with preparation and not by accident.  And an artfully presented routine or speech can showcase simplicity (or something that gives the illusion of simplicity) with a level of excellence that makes it truly stand out.